Without seeing the actual game, my highlight was the women's 3-on-3 game. It was outstanding.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the documentary, "As Fast as Her" by the Chicago Blackhawks team featuring Kendall Coyne, take the time to watch it.
It's amazing to see the momentum picking up from the women's side of the sport. It's only a matter of time until the NWHL will be up and running!
Lastly, on this All-Star weekend news and notes, I was not a fan of the player and puck tracking that the NHL announced they will be using.
Their better be an opt-out option because both were extremely distracting and unnecessary in my opinion.
What are your thoughts?
Moving on to the "meat" of this blog; 4 youngsters that are helping contribute to the recent success of the Hawks.
The Hawks will usually need their big guys and/or great goaltending to step up if they are to win more games than lose throughout a season. However, without this next wave of prospects, the Hawks wouldn't be in the position they are in today – fighting for a playoff spot.
Furthermore, the future of this team would look fairly bleak if these guys didn't exist.
Let's jump into it:
* Dominik Kubalik – this one is a no-brainer and a name you all expected to see on here. He's one of the hottest players in the NHL – not just rookies – but the entire NHL. His 19 even-strength goals put him 8th in the NHL (tied with Patrick Kane). He has 21 goals total which leads all rookies by 5 goals. He has worked himself into the Calder Trophy conversation. Kubalik has also increased his future earnings with his performance this season – his next contract will be $3M+ AAV.
* Kirby Dach – the now-19-year-old is not producing the way we all probably wished, however, his overall game is solid. If you watch his defensive game, he is usually in the right spot, which is a great sign for such a young man playing centre (primarily) in the NHL. He's a pretty darn good pick-pocketer as well, using that long reach putting him 6th in the NHL amongst rookies in takeaways / 60 minutes at 2.54. The good news, he might be heating up offensively as well with 1 G and 2 A in his last 2 games heading into the All-Star break.
* Matthew Highmore – he played his first game on November 26th and has been with the team ever since. He's a career 0.66 point per game in the AHL (64 points in 97 games) but I don't think offense will ever be his role in the NHL. With just 3 points in 21 games, Highmore offers a lot to this team beyond his stat line. He starts 55% of his faceoffs in the defensive end, plays with character and the best part of his game is his nose for the puck. He's an RFA this summer and should be re-upped, as he's a great (and cheap) complimentary player.
* Adam Boqvist – I've said it a few times and I think that Boqvist would have been better served in the AHL, however, it's not my call and he's actually playing well in the NHL right now. Averaging 16:43 per game, he and his partner Keith are being relied on more and more by Colliton. Now, do I think Henri Jokiharju would be doing a similar or better job right now (while Boqvist gains AHL experience) – yes. But that's a story for another day. Boqvist continues to man the first powerplay unit and should get the green light to shoot as much as possible. He gets his shot through is 48.1% which is 3rd amongst dman on the team – plus it helps he can fire a puck 100 mph. Good on the Hawks staff for working with the young Swede and this time in the NHL is going to really help CHI next year and beyond.
While Kubalik might cool off a bit, I believe these 4 youngsters will continue to be big contributors in the 2nd half.
They better be if the Hawks want to make the playoffs.